Support Advancing a Reparations Study and Commission


Join Faith Leaders and Urge your Representative to Pass H.R. 40

UPDATE: H.R. 40 is now just shy of 200 co-sponsors in the House of Representatives! If your Representative has already co-sponsored, customize your message with a thank you, and encourage them to rally their colleauges to join as well!

The House of Representatives is expected to soon vote on H.R. 40, the Commission to Study and Develop Reparation Proposals for African Americans Act. This bill would establish a new commission to study the lasting impacts of slavery in the U.S. and develop a set of recommendations for advancing reparations for affected people of African descent.

Better understanding of the role of U.S. enslavement of African Americans in national formation, slavery’s legacy of systemic racial disparities perpetuated through practice and policy, and definition of reparations are long overdue steps in promoting racial justice in the U.S. As a moral issue, a matter of social justice, and an expression of the ELCA’s commitment to advance racial equity, we support the establishment of this commission and their charge. It could bring our nation one step further in achieving greater racial justice and inform the work of the church in examining its own involvement in and benefit from U.S. slavery.

ELCA Foundation for Action

In 2019, the ELCA Church Council called for action to further “engage in anti-racism and racial justice work, work toward economic justice—including the study of reparations.” This call to action was likewise recognized in the Declaration to People of African Descent by the 2019 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The Declaration offered a public apology to people of African descent which acknowledges that racism and white supremacy are deeply rooted in our history and that the church is complicit. This apology "means working toward a deeper understanding of slavery and its legacy, of institutional and structural racism, of white privilege, and of attitudes and foundations of white supremacy."  The ELCA also adopted a resolution during the 2019 Churchwide Assembly condemning white supremacy, calling "all congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to engage in communal study of the structures and rhetoric that empower and fuel racism and white supremacy and to take to heart the teaching of Scriptures, so we may all be better equipped to speak boldly about the equal dignity of all persons in the eyes of God."

Our church undertook these actions because we know to healthily live into the future fully embracing one another’s gifts, we need to examine the wounds we live with today with origins in the past. We think our nation will be stronger with similar examination.

Ahead of the vote, it is critical for lawmakers to hear the perspective of faith leaders in their districts, who express how this study is a critical matter of justice for our communities and a step towards addressing historic inequities in our nation. This is a critical moment for transformative change to meet the need for advancing racial equity. The new ELCA resource, “How Strategic and Authentic is our Diversity?,” can be used to explore our commitments as church. More on H.R. 40 details can be found in the National Council of Churches talking point resource, “Faith & Facts for H.R. 40.”


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